Over the decades, I have been an on-again, off-again viewer of Saturday Night Live. But I have set the record over the last two months for tuning in. And I am not alone. Some 10 million people are chuckling right along with me. What, then, does humor actually do for us?
Humor Helps People Cope
When Mary Tyler Moore died last month, many of us were sad at this latest in a seemingly endless string of cultural icons leaving the planet, making it a little less bright for those of us still here on earth. Numerous TV stations reran some of the most endearing clips from Mary’s shows, highlighting her wry smile and sharp wit. One of these clips from the Mary Tyler Moore Show zoomed in on Mary and her pals at a funeral for Chuckles the Clown. Initially Mary chastises her colleagues for making jokes at such a sad time. But as the eulogy gets underway, Mary finds herself giggling up a storm. Humor helps us cope with stressful situations. By laughing, we let ourselves know that this too shall pass and we will survive.
Humor Brings People Together
Back to Saturday Night Live. Part of the reason I make sure to watch it is because I know my friends and family will be watching it too. And after it’s over we’ll laugh together. A shared act — whether joyful or just plain silly — that brings us closer together.
Humor Makes Us Healthier
Remember the scene in Mary Poppins where she takes the children for a visit to Uncle Albert who loves to laugh? Albert laughs so long and so hard, he rises off the floor and floats up to the ceiling. And his laugh is infectious. Soon his guests are floating around with him. There’s biology behind the warm feelings roused by a good laugh—maybe it won’t raise your body off the floor but it does lift your spirits pretty high. When we laugh, our muscles contract. And this muscle movement releases endorphins in the brain that make us feel a giddy lighthearted joy.
Share your stories of lightening the mood with a good laugh!